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County approves incentives for freight shipping company

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Commissioners on Monday approved an incentives agreement for a China Grove company that is considering a 40-job expansion.

R+L Carriers, a freight shipping company, is weighing whether to invest more than $7 million in an expansion of its facility at U.S. 29 and Pine Ridge Road. First, the company is seeking a grant through the state’s One NC Fund and a $50,000 match from Rowan County. As approved, the match would function like a tax-incentive agreement — the company would be a paid a certain amount of money in regular installments as upgrades are made.

The county commissioners on Monday approved a three-year agreement that will pay R+L Carriers $16,666 in the first year and $16,667 in the second and third years. Scott Shelton, interim director of RowanWORKS Economic Development, said the approved agreement requires less money than if R+L Carriers had sought a traditional tax-incentive agreement.

In his presentation, Shelton noted the positives of the agreement.

“This project would be a good way to promote new growth and promote the county as a business-friendly destination for future companies,” Shelton said.

Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement. Shelton said the company plans to make a decision about expansion within roughly 45 days.

If chosen, R+L Carriers’ China Grove facility would see an additional eight jobs per year over the course of five years, Shelton said. The average salary for the new jobs would be $43,000 a year. The new jobs would come with a 50-door terminal extension, additional maintenance and office space, a truck wash and extra fueling station lanes.

The expansion would take up to 10 months to complete, according to a project summary.

Commissioners Vice Chairman Jim Greene said people interested in the new jobs would be able to receive training through a program at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. A twist on the N.C. Manufacturing Institute, the program trains workers for manufacturing and other jobs. Classes are scheduled at sites around the county. The first class is at 7 tonight at the Rockwell American Legion building, 8580 U.S. 52

In other business at Monday’s meeting:

• The commissioners delayed action on whether to rename a new road in southern Rowan County Old Beatty Ford Road.

The new road would be immediately north of Old Beatty Ford Road and be the site of an Interstate 85 exit. Other nearby streets, including the current Old Beatty Ford Road, must be renamed.

The commissioners heard opinions during a public comment period about the road renaming. One speaker said there are confusing house numbers on Old Beatty Ford Road. He proposed some potential names for a section of the current Old Beatty Ford Road. A second person expressed concerns about the process of changing addresses.

Bosnian Heights Fire Chief Mike Zimmerman spoke briefly about possible confusion for first responders and motorists that might result from not calling the new road Old Beatty Ford Road.

Commissioner Craig Pierce asked for a delay of the renaming to speak with first responders.

Meanwhile, county planning staff say they are seeking input from affected residents about a new name for a section of Old Beatty Ford Road that’s currently between the I-85 bridge and Lentz Road. Once the road is renamed, that part will no longer be Old Beatty Ford Road.

Email name submissions to aaron.poplin@rowancountync.gov.

• Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds gave an update on a welcome sign he has proposed.

The sign would be on land immediately south of the Yadkin River Bridge. For people traveling south on I-85, the sign would be on the right. Pierce asked that the sign be pulled off the consent agenda because the commissioners last talked about the idea in August.

On Monday, the commissioners unanimously approved $5,250 for surveying work on a 3.2-acre tract that will include the sign. Once surveying work is complete, the county can solicit bids for construction, County Manager Aaron Church said.

Edds said local architect Bill Burgin has been involved in drafting plans for the sign’s appearance. Rowan County has submitted the sign proposal to the N.C. Department of Transportation, which approved the design. Edds said the design has changed significantly from when it was first proposed.

Edds said DOT officials “believe it’s a beautiful sign.”

He said it’s possible construction could start later this year.

• Commissioners received a presentation about the fiscal year 2015-16 audit.

The audit comes with one finding related to whether a Department of Social Services employee performed required verification for someone who received benefits.

The audit also shows revenues increased by more than $5 million compared to the prior fiscal year. Expenditures increased by just under $4 million.

• Commissioners held a public hearing related to a grant received by Gildan Yarns.

No one spoke during the public hearing. Before the hearing, however, grant administrator David Hartigan said Gildan has nearly 200 employees.

Initially, the projection was 153.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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